'Highly likely' Wakefield will get coronavirus cases but 'proportionate' response to disease needed

Wakefield's director of public health has urged people to take "common sense" precautions to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Thursday, 5th March 2020, 2:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th March 2020, 2:03 pm
The number of cases of the virus is escalating on a daily basis.

Anna Hartley said it was "highly, highly likely" the district would see a case of the illness soon, as the number of confirmed UK cases rose to 85 on Wednesday.

People living in Leeds and Bradford are among those who've been isolated since the outbreak started.

But local residents are advised it's "business as usual" for the timebeing and to take the same steps they would to guard against any other type of flu.

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Anna Hartley, Wakefield's director of public health.

The public is being told that many sufferers will not experience symptoms different to other strains of the virus and to ensure they're taking information from reliable sources, such as the NHS website.

Ms Hartley said representatives from Wakefield Council, the local NHS and emergency services were meeting on a regular basis to co-ordinate their response to the situation and that the area was well prepared.

She said: "It's important to note that we are still in the containment phase so we need to have a sensible, proportionate and common sense response.

"For most people who get it, it will be a mild, self-limiting virus.

"You can manage yourself at home, take lots of fluids and paracetemol.

"It’s highly, highly likely we’ll get some cases (in Wakefield). Once testing becomes more widespread we’ll see more cases I expect.

"We are dealing with the unknown in that it’s a novel virus, but I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see a case in Wakefield at some point."

Parents are advised to ensure they and their children are up to date with their vaccinations.

Although there is no vaccine for coronavirus at the moment, being immunised against other conditions will help reduce pressure on the NHS.

Washing your hands for 20 seconds at a time is also being encouraged by Public Health England, as is checking on the latest travel advice from the Foreign Office before flying abroad.

Ms Hartley predicted coronavirus would follow the path set by swine flu, which first entered the public consciousness in 2009 after an outbreak.

She said: "(Back then) it was everywhere, very similar to this.

"In reality, they created a vaccination and now it’s part of our preventable diseases. Nobody thinks about it and we’re all vaccinated against it."

Asked if there was any prospect of any events in Wakefield being cancelled or public places being closed because of coronavirus, the council says it would take advice from either the World Health Organisation (WHO) or Public Health England before taking any action.

Ms Hartley said: "There's lots of negatives to do with cancelling events. People can feel quite lonely.

"Business as usual is quite important for people’s wellbeing and mental health and we need to be led by the national guidance on that.

"One of the really important things we’re adhering to is following the national guidance. If we can all do that, the process will be far better managed."

Key advice

- Make sure you and your children are up to date with vaccines. Although there's no vaccine for coronavirus, ensuring you're immunised from other illnesses will help take pressure off the NHS

- Self-care if you can

- Wash your hands for 20 seconds

- Following Foreign Office advice if you're travelling abroad

- If you think you have coronavirus, call 111 for advice - don't present at a hospital or GP surgery.

Local Democracy Reporting Service